Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Nine of the greatest moral compromises in crime fiction

Carl Vonderau is the author of Murderabilia, a thriller that takes place in the upper crust world of private banking. Like the protagonist, William McNary, he has been a private banker and was raised in a Christian Science family.

At CrimeReads Vonderau tagged nine of the greatest moral compromises in crime fiction, including:
Winter’s Bone, by Daniel Woodrell

Family loyalty and history are also huge determinants in the work of Daniel Woodrell, who writes wonderful descriptions of the winter landscape in a third-person voice thick with the Ozarks. In Winter’s Bone, Ree Dolly is sixteen. She must protect and care for her mentally ill mother and her two young brothers. Her one hope is to someday be free enough that she can join the army. As the story opens, her father, a meth cooker, has jumped bail and disappeared. A deputy marshall shows up and informs the family that their father put up the house and their timber acres as collateral for the bail bond. If Ree doesn’t make her father show up in court the next week, she, her mother, and her two brothers will lose the little that they own.

Ree must align with the murderers and drug dealers her father worked with in order to find him and save her family. As with Michael Corleone, it is as if a whole society is pulling her back into what she is trying to escape. Through force of will, she manages to convince the criminals around her to rise above their deadened selves and help, perhaps to prove to themselves they are still capable of compassion. This story is a devastating portrait of a society crushed by inescapable drugs and poverty, where violence hides tenderness, and where loyalty to family is everything.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Winter's Bone is among Adam Sternbergh's six top crime novels that double as great literature and Lauren Passell's ten must-read books that take place in the Midwest.

--Marshal Zeringue